Dealing with Gambling Addiction

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According to research, gambling is one of the world's fastest-growing and most profitable markets, and it is more common in women than in men. In Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit, we meet Angie Bachmann, a housewife who is dissatisfied with her life and routine. Angie takes to gambling to alleviate her boredom and isolation, but she ends up gambling away all of her assets (Duhigg). In the article What I Lost by Gambling by Maxi Chambers, the author also develops a dangerous gambling habit that breaks her family and confidence before she manages to stop it (Chambers). Bachmann tries to break her habit of gambling but fails while on the other hand Chambers successfully curbs her desire to gamble, albeit through a prolonged struggle and sacrifice. The divergent endings of Bachmann and Chambers indicate that gambling is a habit that can be cured only if understood, acknowledged and replaced by a good habit that offers similar satisfaction.

Bachmann and Chambers start gambling to cure certain problems in their daily lives but end up becoming impulsive gamblers. Bachmann begins gambling at the casino to fill up her mundane days as a housewife. Duhigg describes Angie’s situation, “Angie is a stay at home mom that finds herself intensely boring day after day.” (Duhigg) At first, she only gambles once a week on Friday to “reward herself” (Duhigg). Chambers also starts her gambling addiction with a simple game of bingo that catches her attention. It is reported that many people turn to gambling in a bid to cure other weaknesses in their lives; be it loneliness, failure or low confidence (Nakken). The rush obtained from gambling is like a drug to the individual gambler, and it becomes a habit in his/her life. In The Addictive Personality the cycle of addiction is explained as, “Any addictive relationship begins when a person repeatedly seeks the illusion of relief to avoid unpleasant feelings or situations” (Nakken) Bachmann starts with the intention of escaping her boring routine life but becomes hooked in a few months and ends up losing everything to gambling. For chambers gambling ruined her life as she puts it, “As my playing time increased, so did my debt.” (Chambers) Chambers goes from an upstanding mother, wife and church member to a disgraced and fallen divorcee in just a few years thanks to gambling.

Addiction to gambling turns both Bachmann’s and Chambers’ lives upside down. While it all started as a well-meaning distraction, they both get quickly addicted to gambling and become impulsive gamblers. Bachmann and Chamber cannot seem to stop gambling once they are started, and they soon find themselves trapped in a hopeless cycle of gambling. The most obvious implication that gambling creates for impulsive gamblers is financial mismanagement (Bell). Bachmann loses her discipline after her parents’ illness and starts gambling up to thrice a week losing significant amounts in the process. As the author explains, “By the summer of 2001 Bachmann was in $20,000 of debt that she kept secret from her husband. After this she tried to clean up her act, she thought she beat the compulsion, but she hadn’t. A couple of years later she declared bankruptcy. Angie’s lawyer argued that she gambled out of habit, not a choice.” (Duhigg) She grows out of touch with her family, and the time she should be spending at home is spent gambling in the casino. Eventually, she gambles all her family property including a one million dollar inheritance from her parents. Chambers finds herself deep in debt, and she has to keep lying and borrowing money from unsuspecting family members and colleagues. As Chambers describes, “So I began borrowing money from friends and acquaintances, always providing them with a good reason why I needed the money. Due to my reputation, they lent it to me without question. “ (Chambers) Gambling costs Chambers her marriage and family; a situation she blames herself for. Chambers explains the feeling she gets from gambling by saying, “Two years into my gambling, I began to feel suicidal. I constantly cried, seldom slept, and didn't know a single minute of mental peace.” (Chambers) Eventually, she comes clean to her family and pastor and seeks forgiveness. Chambers manages to overturn her gambling addiction through hard work and determination and sacrifice, but Bachmann falls back into gambling until she is declared bankrupt. From the stories of these two ladies and several others, it is evident that gambling is a dangerous habit that can destroy the families and lives of the gamblers and their loved ones.

Gambling addiction can be overturned by establishing the innate reason for gambling and finding another hobby to provide the same effect. Duhigg provides a seemingly simple formula for beating gambling addiction. To this effect, he breaks down gambling as a habit into three; the cue, routine, and reward. The cue represents the reason for gambling, the routine is the gambling action itself and the reward is the satisfaction obtained from gambling. Nakken explains the recovery process saying, true acceptance of the presence and strength of an addictive personality forces the addict to seek help outside of themselves.” (Nakken) Duhigg argues that it is impossible to simply stop gambling and that only developing a new habit in its place can help a compulsive gambler to quit gambling (Duhigg). Chambers gets out of gambling through sheer will and determination after it ruins her life. When she had hit rock bottom, she says, “The next morning, I cleaned the house of anything that spoke of gambling. I also sat down with my checkbook, totaled my damages, and approached my extended family with one final request for a loan. “(Chambers) this is the turning point for Chambers in quitting gambling. She seeks forgiveness from her family and pastor and volunteers at church to keep busy. Chambers shares her recovery process, “I decided I needed to keep busy, so I called my pastor and asked to see him. I confessed what was happening and asked if I could do some volunteer work for the church.” (Chambers) The success of quitting gambling depends on the individual and his/her will to accept that he/she has a problem and seek the necessary help to fix it.

In conclusion, gambling is an addictive activity that eats away at the gambler’s life and money until he/she decides to quit wholeheartedly. Most gamblers start gambling for simple reasons like boredom and but end up becoming compulsive gamblers. Gambling destroys the addict’s life in more ways than one and can lead to bankruptcy, hopelessness and even suicide. Angie Bachmann begins gambling to fight boredom but becomes hooked until she loses all her property at the casino and is charged by the court. Maxi Chambers also starts gambling out of curiosity and goes on to lose her marriage, family, and dignity before she accepts her problem and seeks the necessary help to beat gambling. According to Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, the gambler has to acknowledge the underlying problem that made him/her start gambling and channel another activity towards fulfilling that need. All in all, addiction to gambling is a complex habit that requires acceptance and gradual steps coupled with grit and unwavering determination to quit.

Works Cited

Bell, Noel. The 10 most successful ways of overcoming gambling urges. 2 February 2016. Print. 29 November 2017.

Chambers, Maxi. Today's Christian Woman. 1996. Print. 29 November 2017.

Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.

Nakken, Craig. The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior. Center City: Hazelden Publishing, 1996. Print.

October 20, 2022

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